THEME: DEATH AS SEED FOR ETERNAL LIFE
READING: John 12:23-28
A GOOD FRIDAY MEDITATION
This homily is outlined as follows:
- When a grain of wheat dies (cf. John 12:24)
- Christ turns loss of earthly life into eternal gain (cf. John 12:25)
- Whoever serves Christ enjoys eternal glory with Him (cf. John 12:26)
1. When a grain of wheat dies (cf. John 12:24)
Our Lord Jesus Christ says: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). In other words, all things being equal, when a seed falls into the earth and dies, it becomes fruitful.
The Creator God designed a seed with the potential for a new and better life which is released only when it dies. By the design of God, when a seed dies, that which was initially motionless begins to move as it germinates. When a seed dies, that which was rotten turns into freshness. When a seed dies, that which was ended turns into a new beginning. When a seed dies, that which was destroyed gains a better reconstruction. When a seed dies, that which was useless becomes very useful. When a seed dies, that which was buried begins to rise above the ground. Moreover, that which was single seed becomes plenty.
2. Christ turns loss of earthly life into eternal gain (cf. John 12:25)
Christ says: “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). Our Lord uses the fruitfulness of a seed which dies to illustrate the fact that those who lose earthly life for His sake will gain eternal life. That is, when through the envy of the Devil, humans became liable to death, God who created the seeds and endowed them with the power of regeneration at death, did not need to reinvent the wheel for handling the problem of human death. In other words, to solve the problem of human death, God applies the blueprint of His design for seeds.
Thus, through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, God turns the death of His faithful into the fruitfulness of eternal life. Firstly, as a motionless seed begins to move as it germinates, so in Christ, the soul of the dead move towards God. Secondly, as rotten seed turns into freshness, so in Christ, the dead assume a glorious body like His. Thirdly, as the end of a dead seed turns into a new beginning, so in Christ, the dead gain a new life in heaven. Fourthly, as a destroyed seed gains a better reconstruction, so in Christ, the souls of the faithful departed are reconstructed into a glorious state which nothing on this earth can be compared with. Fifthly, as a useless dead seed becomes very useful, so in Christ, the dead become eternally useful in God’s presence. Moreover, as the buried seed rises above the ground, so the soul of the faithful departed resurrect and ascend heaven-ward.
Beloved, these advantages in Christ should make us so resolute in the Lord that we would never compromise on our faith. We should, therefore, give up any association, honour, benefits/merits or anything which may affect our relationship with Christ and His Church. In other words, the “opportunity cost” of accepting Christ is to forgo anything that may affect our relationship with Him and His Church.
3. Whoever serves Christ enjoys eternal glory with Him (cf. John 12:26)
Christ says: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor” (John 12:26).
To serve Christ is to believe in Him and obey His commandments. When we die in the service of Christ, we enjoy the merits of His precious blood. As the fruitfulness of a dead seed is aided by moisture and nutrients in the soil, so the precious blood of Christ moistures and nourishes our souls to enjoy eternal life. Therefore, let us endeavour to serve Christ, so that we may enjoy eternal glory with Him.
On the other hand, the death of the unfaithful ones is like a dead seed which is eaten up by insects and worms, and so dies perpetually. Remember that our Lord once described hell as a place “where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:48). Beloved, this is a frightening prospect. Let us, therefore, flee from anything that makes us unfaithful to Christ.
Beloved, when a grain of wheat dies, it produces much fruit in a favourable condition. Similarly, in Christ, death has become a seed for eternal life. And those who serve Him will enjoy eternal glory with Him. Let us all, therefore, faithfully serve Christ that we may enjoy eternal glory with Him. Amen!
By Msgr. John Kobina Louis